By Bob Marshall
This is where all the political gamesmanship over the budget for the last year has put fish, wildlife and sportsmen: The current Farm Bill expires at the end of the month, which could bring a halt to the wide range of programs it supports, including Conservation Reserve, Wetlands Reserve and Grasslands Reserve. The Senate passed a bill that drew praise from sportsmen during the summer, and the House Agriculture Committee followed suit. But GOP deficit hawks think it gives too much to nutrition programs like school lunches and conservation, while some Democrats think the cuts to nutrition programs are too steep.
Veteran Hill lobbyists say they fear election year politics is now having an impact, with each side afraid a vote either way could be used against them.
"The calendar doesn't lie, and right now it says we've got eight legislative days (days when congress meets and can vote) before the end of September, and there's no evidence of a Farm Bill on that (House) calendar," said Steve Kline, director Center for Agricultural and Private Lands Director at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.